You’re a seasoned pro at choosing cabinets, countertops, fixtures, faucets, appliances, paint, flooring and lighting for your projects. But kitchens and baths have many more parts and pieces to them that you may not have been taught in design school, or even learned on the job.
Who specifies the window coverings, soft goods, chairs or stools, side tables, cushion and banquette upholstery, countertop accessories, free-standing storage furniture and many other finishing details on your jobs? If that’s you, how are you keeping up with all of those elements so that your rooms are executed – and photo-staged – as beautifully as they’re designed and constructed?
KEEPING UP WITH TRENDS
Two trade shows that are worth considering if you specify furniture, fabrics and accessories are ICFF (formerly called the International Contemporary Furniture Fair), which takes place every May in New York City, and High Point Market, a twice-annual (April and October) show in High Point, NC. You can also visit local, national and even global retailers such as IKEA if you can’t make it to the shows, or want insights between them.
If you happen to work for one of those retailers, you may be doing home visits, as well. “Every year IKEA of Sweden and all local markets conduct thousands of home visits in their geographical areas,” shares Janice Simonsen, the company’s U.S.-based design spokesperson.
The global giant also has teams collecting market intelligence, visiting cities and trade shows around the world, collecting insights and talking to people in new and established markets. “Being curious makes us different,” she adds. Having a huge, international team helps, too. Chances are, you don’t.
Chances are, too, that house visits are a bit more challenging for you, the designer, than they are for a corporate executive. Some ways to accomplish them are checking out builders’ open houses in your area, taking local home tours and staying at Airbnb properties when you travel.
IMPACTFUL DESIGN AT ICFF
If you can get to a big show, that’s a shortcut to checking out the latest trends in turbo mode. “ICFF is dedicated to being the global design platform for North America. To this end, the event continues to bring what’s best and what’s next from all over the world. Doubling in size over the past three editions, the exhibition is expected to continue to expand,” declares Kevin O’Keefe, the Emerald Expositions executive and show director. There are also smaller satellite ICFF events in Miami on October 5 and 6 and in Los Angeles (in the planning stage).
If you go to New York for the show, you won’t be the only kitchen and bath designer amid a sea of interior designers or decorators, either. “We have approximately 1,300 kitchen and bath designers attending ICFF each year,” O’Keefe notes.
Here are some of the dominant kitchen and bath-friendly trends on display this year:
- Colorful, compact stools that can be used for bathtub side tables
- Ebony and white fabrics and bright colors for window coverings and cushion covers
- Accessories featuring natural materials like snakeskin for mirrors and seating
- Concrete look and geometric forms for decorative accessories
- Abstract patterns and organic forms for fabrics, rugs and wallpapers
- Danish design returning in new dining chair collection for tables and lowered countertops
- Playful sizes and retro shapes for accessories and lighting.
O’Keefe points out, “At ICFF, you’ll see furniture, seating, carpet and flooring, lighting, outdoor furniture, materials, wall coverings, accessories, textiles, and kitchens and baths designed for residential and commercial interiors. This makes ICFF one of the only North American platforms to view all of the design elements that go into kitchen and bath design, and not just focus on building products.”
HIGH POINT MARKET SPRINGS FORWARD
High Point Market is one of The Decorating Diva blog founder Carmen Natschke’s regular stops.
“I’ve been attending since 2010,” the Florida-based publisher shares. “I’d venture to say it is the biggest furniture and design show on the globe that caters to almost all aspects of interior home fashion and decor.”
Among the things that Natschke saw trending at High Point Market this past spring that can enhance some of your kitchen and bath projects included:
- Large-scale lighting in soft metals and natural luxe materials
- Luxe performance fabrics for upholstery and light shades that perform well in a high-traffic kitchen and bath setting
- Bar carts for clients wanting to entertain stylishly and comfortably
- Lucite used in stool legs and side tables – not a new trend, Natschke says, but strong this year
- Slim profile storage for tight spaces
- Bar and counter stools in what she calls “comfortable glam” style
- Bold mirrors to make vanities more interesting.
HOT TRENDS IN STORE
Maybe you’re so busy right now that you just can’t break away for a trip to New York or North Carolina. No problem: Here’s what’s trending in an IKEA near you, according to Simonsen:
- Accessories made of natural materials (like wood or stone) that give a feeling of bringing the outside in
- Thick, fluffy, quality towels to give a luxurious hotel feeling
- Shower curtains with a towel feel, but shower curtain functionality
- Mirrors that can become multimedia screens.
IKEA may not be your own go-to resource for style finds, but it’s a global trend spotter and trend maker – including in the kitchen and bath space – so it’s worth considering what they’re seeing (and selling).
There are certainly other places to check out the latest in kitchen and bath furniture, fabrics and accessories if you specify those. Houzz, Etsy and Pinterest are easy online and mobile destinations. Pottery Barn, West Elm, Crate & Barrel, Bloomingdale’s, CB2 and Restoration Hardware are easy retail spots to scope out. If God truly is in the details and you want your projects to be heavenly in all respects, keep an eye on the finishing touches, even if just for your next photo shoot.
Jamie Gold, CKD, CAPS is an independent designer in San Diego, the author of New Kitchen Ideas That Work and upcoming New Bathroom Idea Book (Taunton Press), and a blogger, design journalist, seminar developer and industry consultant.